. hollywood fantasy made real. no wonder we're all transfixed. harry houdini, evel knievel, david blaine, showmen all, but what separates daredevils from mere stunt men may be the backdrop. the tightrope walker perched over niagara falls is as compelling in 2012 as it was in 1876 or a man-made wonder, a bridge or a building or a pair of buildings. philippe petit, the "man on a wire," whose flight of fancy is all the more poignant because that wonder is gone. like petit, felix baumgartner spent years planning this jump just as others are now planning what may be the next great frontier, a journey to the center of the earth, jules verne for real to study the origins of life. less than a century ago, pilots were daredevils. >> lindbergh and "the spirit of st. louis." >> reporter: charles lind berg and amelia earhart pushing boundaries that now we take for granted. without neal armstrong, there'd be no felix baumgartner. >> that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. >> reporter: of course, baumgartner's giant leap didn't defy gravity. he submitted to gravity all the way down.